Apostles of Defiance

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Feel free to put longstanding Canadians Eidolon next to the high-flying, subgenre-defying Nevermore. Stylistically speaking, both bands sound like a power metal band after a particularly emasculating knifepoint mugging. In other words, Apostles of Defiance starts with a traditional heavy metal foundation, then thrashes and bashes its sound until it's gritty and adrenaline-jacked, nodding toward the classic aggression of Megadeth and the melodic sensibilities of Iron Maiden. So cuts "Demoralized," "Scream from Within," and "Pull the Trigger" are packed with long trains of chugging, deft, and well-constructed railcar riffs interspersed with mellow bits -- and thankfully no indulgent prog-pomp, even during the standout ten-minute epic "Apathy for a Dying World," which mixes high-density Swedish-style guitar melodies, nice mid-tempo doomy passages, and odd-tempo, sideways thrashing. Singer Pat Mulock, on his second recording stint with Eidolon, recalls a less one-dimensionally strained Dave Mustaine -- that is, slightly nasal, mid-rangey, irritated, p.o.'d, and inexplicably powerful -- mixed a little bit low amidst the live-sounding drums; galloping, grumbling bass; and an occasional, unconvincing backup death vocal. Overall, the production could use a little more thunder and crackle, and lyrically, Apostles of Defiance is a bit bland, but these are minor quibbles considering the album's muscular performances, convincingly dark vibe, and a healthy ear for quality songwriting. Some versions of Apostles of Defiance come packaged with a bonus CD featuring Eidolon's first album, 1993's Zero Hour, which showcases the band's golden-era thrash metal influence (albeit more restrained) -- and surprise, it's not as ham-fisted a debut as one would expect, boasting meaty fistfuls of riffs and a decent cover of Black Sabbath's "Hole in the Sky," even if the dated helium-huffing vocals, occasional spoken-word stumble, and a prissy acoustic interlude are a bit of a larf (and "Pain" sounds strangely and remarkably like Alice in Chains' "Bleed the Freak"). Diehards will appreciate the unearthing of a relatively rare album, although newer Eidolon apostles will give it a spin for curiosity's sake, and probably deem it a bit too drenched in the influence of the 1980s.

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